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At Least 39 killed, 70 Wounded in New Year's Attack
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Old 01-01-2017
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Default At Least 39 killed, 70 Wounded in New Year's Attack






At Least 39 killed, 70 Wounded in New Year's Attack
On Istanbul's Reina Nightclub





Published December 31, 2016 FoxNews.com

ISTANBUL (AP) An armed assailant who is believed to have been dressed in a Santa Claus costume opened fire at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul during New Year's celebrations, killing at least 39 people and wounding nearly 70 others, according to Istanbul's governor and Turkey's state-run news agency.

Gov. Vasip Sahin said the attacker, armed with a long-barreled weapon, killed a policeman and a civilian outside the club before entering and firing on people partying inside. He did not say who may have carried out the attack.

"Unfortunately (he) rained bullets in a very cruel and merciless way on innocent people who were there to celebrate New Year's and have fun," Sahin told reporters.

Footage from the scene showed at least six ambulances with flashing lights and civilians being escorted out. NTV said police had cordoned off the area and an operation to capture the assailant was ongoing.


Police secure area near an Istanbul nightclub, Turkey, January 1, 2017.
REUTERS/Osman Orsal - RTX2X3I4

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the man was still on the run, adding: "efforts to find the terrorist are continuing."

"Our security forces have started the necessary operations. God willing he will be caught in a short period of time," the minister said.

At least 16 of the dead were foreign nationals, Soylu said, without providing information on their nationalities. Five of the victims were identified as Turkish nationals while authorities were still trying to identify 18 of the victims. At least 69 people were being treated in hospitals, four in serious condition, Soylu said.

The attack occurred shortly after midnight in the Reina Nightclub where an estimated 600 people celebrated New Year's Eve. Several shocked revelers were seen fleeing the scene after the attack and the music fell silent.


The club is located close to recent suicide attacks that killed dozens near a soccer stadium.

Media reports said the assailant entered the Reina nightclub, in Istanbul's Ortakoy district, at 1:45 am, dressed in a Santa Claus costume. Some customers jumped into the waters of the Bosporus to escape the attack, the report said.

Later in the evening, President Barack Obama expressed condolences for the attack and directed his team to offer U.S. help to Turkish authorities, the White House said.

"This afternoon the president was briefed by his national security team on the attack in Istanbul," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement. "The president expressed condolences for the innocent lives lost, directed his team to offer appropriate assistance to the Turkish authorities, as necessary, and keep him updated as warranted."

The White House has condemned the incident calling it a "horrific terrorist attack."

An AP photographer says police cordoned off the area about 2 miles away from the nightclub and reported multiple ambulances passing by.

Security measures had been heightened in major Turkish cities, with police barring traffic leading up to key squares in Istanbul and the capital Ankara. In Istanbul, 17,000 police officers were put on duty, some camouflaged as Santa Clause and others as street vendors, Anadolu reported.

Ankara and Istanbul have been targeted by several attacks in 2016 carried out by the Islamic State group or Kurdish rebels, killing more than 180 people.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag vowed that Turkey would press ahead with its fight against violent groups.

"Turkey will continue its determined and effective combat to root out terror," Bozdag said on Twitter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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